It took 2 1/2 months, but Andy Ashby finally got his first win of the season last weekend.
Now, the veteran right-hander hopes to build on the victory and help the Los Angeles Dodgers maintain a share of first place in the NL West as they resume their Freeway Series with the Anaheim Angels at Dodger Stadium.
Ashby, who has alternated between the bullpen and rotation this year after spending his previous 14 major league seasons as a starter, went winless in his first nine appearances, two of them starts, before beating the Cleveland Indians 5-2 last Saturday.
He allowed two runs and five hits over five innings, walking two and striking out two for his first win since last Aug. 18. Ashby had lost his previous eight decisions.
If Ashby falters, the Dodgers are likely to slide left-hander Wilson Alvarez into the rotation. Alvarez pitched the final four innings to save the win for Ashby on Saturday, allowing just one hit while striking out six.
“I don’t think I’m competing for the spot,” Alvarez said. “I’m happy (Ashby) won the game. I hope we keep it going the rest of the year like that, him going five innings and me with four. He deserves to start more. All I care is that we win and go to the playoffs.”
The Dodgers forged a tie with San Francisco atop the division with Friday’s series-opening 5-2 win over the Angels, the defending World Series champions.
Garret Anderson homered for Anaheim, which has lost six of eight to slip below .500.
STANDINGS: Angels - 3rd place, 12 1/2 GB, AL West. Dodgers - 1st place (tied), NL West.
ANGELS PROBABLE STARTER: John Lackey (4-6, 5.78 ERA). Lackey is 1-2 in his last four starts, including a 6-3 loss at Seattle on Monday. The right-hander yielded four runs and eight hits over six innings, striking out four and walking one. He won his lone career start against Los Angeles last June 30, allowing a run and five hits over six solid innings in a 5-1 victory.
DODGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Ashby (1-4, 5.82 ERA). Ashby is 1-0 with a 2.86 ERA in two career starts against the Angels.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Angels - Anderson, .316 avg., 17 HRs and 64 RBIs; Troy Glaus, 44 runs; Adam Kennedy, 11 SBs. Dodgers - Paul Lo Duca, .331 avg.; Fred McGriff, 10 HRs; Green, 37 RBIs and 33 runs; Dave Roberts, 23 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Angels - 7-6. Dodgers - 10-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Angels - RHP Mickey Callaway, on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder, threw 29 pitches in a simulated game Friday and reported no problems. He is eligible to be activated Saturday. … 3B Glaus is 2-for-3 with a homer against RHP Ashby. … The Angels are 1-4 on their seven-game road trip. Dodgers - RHP Eric Gagne has converted all 28 of his save opportunities this season, and is perfect in his last 36 dating to last year. … 1B McGriff, out with a groin injury, did not start Saturday but was available to pinch-hit, manager Jim Tracy said. … INF Ron Coomer homered for the first time since May 26, 2002, in Friday’s opener.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Angels - 17-21 on the road; Dodgers - 23-15 at home.
INJURIES: Angels - RHP Callaway (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Wise (elbow), 60-day DL. Dodgers - 1B McGriff (groin), day-to-day; C Todd Hundley (back), 15-day DL; LHP Troy Brohawn (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Darren Dreifort (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Derek Thompson (elbow), 60-day DL.